On Writing: Style, part two: Dummies

A noisy night club. The crowd goes silent as a spotlight snaps on and lights a small stage with two figures, Vlad and Agon. Vlad sits on a stool with Agon on his lap. Both wear shabby suits and bowlers. Agon sleeps, slumped over and leaning against Vlad.


Vlad: Agon, wake up. Time to go to work. [Nudging him awake.] Agon.

[Agon stirs, opens his eyes, yawns, looks around, peers out at the audience, then looks at himself, and dusts himself off.]

Agon: I gotta stop sleeping in my clothes.

Vlad: That’s better than waking up in front of all these people in your pajamas.

Agon [peering out at the audience]: what are they doing in my pajamas?

Vlad: Get serious here. Do you know your lines? Did you memorize the script?

Agon [still trying to peer out past the spotlight]: I want my pajamas back.

Vlad: Come on, come on. Let’s get to work. It’s time to do the act.

Agon: Oh hey, speaking of work, did you hear about the guy who ran over himself outside the Federal Building yesterday?

Vlad: What? He ran over himself? How did he do that???

Agon: Well, he had his car parked along the curb there on Ninth Street, and he had the car jacked up and was underneath working on it.

Vlad: Right there on Ninth?

Agon: That’s what I said, yes, right there on Ninth. Anyway, just as he’s wriggling out from under the car, suddenly a kid goes riding by on a bicycle.

Vlad: Oh! What happened?

Agon: The guy sees the kid on the bike and yells at him, “Hey, kid, run over to Coppa and get me a mocha.”

Vlad: Yeah? And then?

Agon: The kid said no, so he ran over himself.


Vlad: I think that’s the worst joke I’ve ever heard.

Agon: You wrote it.

Vlad: You always blame me for the bad jokes.

Agon: Try writing a good one.

Vlad: I don’t have to take this abuse. I don’t need you, you know. I could do a stand-up routine without you. A solo act. Make it a one-man show.

Agon: It IS a one-man show.

Vlad: Oh, yeah. You have a point there.

Agon: And that man is me.

Vlad: Now, that’s funny! I’m telling you, I don’t need you. I’m the brains behind this outfit. .

Agon: Less brains than behind.


Vlad [turning toward the drummer]: How come my jokes never get a rimshot?

Agon: Try writing a good one.


Vlad [yelling at the drummer]: Hey!

Agon: See? I’m the funny one. I don’t need you. I’m my own man.

Vlad: Your own man, eh? Go ahead. Walk away. [To the drummer] I said, “Go ahead. Walk away!”

[A weak, obligatory rimshot.]

Agon [doing an impression of a rimshot]: fa-dum tsss!

Vlad [getting irritated]: You know, I hate to remind you, because I know you’re very sensitive about this subject, but, uh . . . you’re the dummy.

Agon: Oh shut up.

Vlad: Look, you have to face it. It’s true.

Agon [getting irritated]: You’re the only dummy here.

Vlad: I am the ventriloquist.

Agon: You keep saying that, but I’m the one doing all the talking.

Vlad: I’m the one who does all the talking.

Agon: Ha! Without me you have nothing to say.

Vlad: I’m the ventriloquist here. I can make you shut up anytime I want.

[They turn and face each other and shut up. They sit there looking at each other. The audience laughs. The laughter trails off as Vlad and Agon keep staring at each other in silence. Minutes go by. The audience starts grumbling. Eventually, table after table, the bewildered patrons begin getting up and leaving. Agon turns to look out at the audience. Then Vlad turns his head too, and they sit there peering into the dark as the audience exits.]

Agon: Where are they going with my pajamas?


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